Introducing Debbie Woodall-Carroll, LPCC-S
Available now for in-person marriage retreats in
in addition to online coaching and online therapy
M.S., Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, (Master of Arts in Community Counseling) 2006.
B.A, , Miami University, Oxford Ohio, (Bachelors of Science in Business) 1988.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
Advanced Training in the Gottman Method
I have always enjoyed a challenge and couples usually are! When a couple comes into my office and don’t want to talk to one another, I work to build bridges to help them start communicating again. And I have to do it in such a way that one does not feel “ganged up on.” Both need to feel their voice matters and that they are important. That is where I need to begin.
Working with couples is very different from individual work. If a couple sees a therapist that does not have much training or experience in couples work they may likely walk away feeling disappointed.
It takes a lot of energy and effort on a therapist’s part in order to keep both partners engaged. If the couple sense that the therapist does not believe this amount of effort is warranted, they will likely follow the therapist’s lead. Unfortunately, that can result in the couple losing hope and not wanting to try to make their relationship work.
The best part about being a couples therapist is watching them recognize "We can do things differently. We can change the way they communicate!"
There’s this “ah ha” moment when they understand they’re misinterpreting something and that diffuses a lot of tension. It’s the beginning of reconnecting and coming back together.
Working as a relationship therapist, I’ve come to understand on a deeper level how much work it takes to have a healthy relationship. It makes me appreciate my spouse’s commitment to our relationship. I’ve found that a commitment to the relationship is key to working through problems that crop up along the way.
In my experience, the biggest hurdle couples face is learning to communicate well. Learning to really listen to their partner and understand things from another perspective often makes all the difference in a successful marriage. Early on, it’s easy to let things slide or lose focus, but as time goes on and life gets busy, true communication gets more difficult, while being more essential. Part of my job as a relationship therapist is to help couples overcome this challenge. It takes a lot of practice.
On average, couples see me for 10+ sessions, but this can vary widely depending on the relationship and their particular challenges. In general, I see the couple as a unit, but if one of them is having personal issues that impact the relationship, I may see them individually. I also may refer them to a separate individual counselor to address any personal issues that need more time than I can give in a couples appointment.
However, sessions with only one of the individuals are limited as I don’t want anyone to feel I’m being biased or taking sides. Usually one or two sessions to get a handle on the issue and if that’s not enough, I’ll recommend an outside individual therapist.
During our first session, I’m going to talk about how important it is that each partner is working on themselves. It’s normal when feelings are hurt to point the finger at the other person and blame them for what’s not working, but the work we do in couples therapy is about self-improvements that benefit the relationship. This helps both partners feel less defensive and more open to sharing their feelings.
My focus is communication. I’ve seen time and again when people are truly able to understand their partner’s perspective they feel less defensive and more open to listening and working through a situation. Often, people are surprised when this first happens because they get a different response than the one they were expecting.
After working with me, clients are better able to recognize what they were doing that contributed to poor communication and make changes to correct those behaviors. They learn new ways to communicate and express themselves. Ultimately, the goal is different for each couple. Successful relationship therapy is about the couple getting what it needs to make decisions about their future from a place of love and understanding, rather than from anger or frustration.
My job as a couples counselor is to help them make these choices by challenging existing perspectives and beliefs, to help them see old habits and patterns they’re stuck in and change them. It’s about self-awareness and doing things differently to have a positive effect on the relationship. We practice listening and, at first, I may point out a different perspective or help provide clarification.
In the end, regardless of what the couple decides about their relationship, the decision is made with self-awareness, respect, and clear communication rather than from a place of hurt and anger. Both people can move forward knowing themselves and their partner better.
I am a licensed professional clinical counselor or LPCC. In a nutshell, that means I am licensed to help people deal with emotional and mental health issues. I work with individuals and couples who might be having problems communicating with others, making decisions, feeling sad or anxious or dealing with trauma and grief. When we are healthy, our relationships are healthier.
Helping people develop healthy coping and communication skills is important to me because I can see how these skills improve my client’s lives. I have seen, time and time again, my clients grow in self confidence and pride when they make effective changes in their lives. Understanding how we each have power and control in our lives is key in being able to make lasting changes, especially when it comes to relationships.
Throughout my career I have worked with just about every population including children and adolescents, the elderly and nursing home residents, adults, college age students and military personnel. When I decided to go into private practice I chose to specialize in couples work. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing a couple begin to heal and get closer after feeling there was no chance of repairing the relationship.
Counseling is actually my second career. I received my undergraduate degree in business from Miami University. I worked in Human Resources for about 5 years before I decided to stay at home full time to raise my two boys.
I believe that by helping couples learn to communicate more effectively, I can help them improve their relationship to the point where they want to stay together and no longer feel things are broken between them. It’s so gratifying to see them working together and feeling better about their relationship.
In my work with couples, I continue to find the most rewarding part of my job is watching couples turn a corner. When a couple comes in and tells me they had a disagreement, but were able to use the techniques we’ve been practicing to work it though themselves. That’s so rewarding! They’ve begun to see the possibility that their relationship can change and start to get excited about what’s next.
My main focus is cognitive behavior therapy. Basically, this means I look at the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior. As it relates to relationship therapy, I look at how those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to unhealthy habits and patterns in the relationship. I’ve found that when people understand this about their partner, they’re better able to understand why their partner does certain things, and the individual better understands themselves and can begin to use different behaviors when experiencing those same thoughts and feelings.
I do ask couples seeking marriage therapy with me to respect some basic ground rules around communication and respect. There may be arguing, but there cannot be name calling or swearing at each other. I ask them to focus on what they’re truly trying to express and then be willing to work both during the session and in between sessions to master the skills they’re learning.
One thing my clients truly appreciate about me is that I hold them accountable for their behavior without making them feel judged. This helps them focus on the changes they need to make without fear or recrimination and puts some positivity into the dynamic.
My office is located in Cincinnati, Ohio in a suburb called Sharonville. It is right off of I-275 which makes it convenient to get to. It is a comfortable space with the feel of a living room. I’m not much of a decorator so I give credit where credit is due. My son’s girlfriend helped me pull it all together!
My husband and I are empty nesters. Between the two of us we have four children. My 2 boys are 24 years old and 26 year old. One lives in LA and the other is here in Cincinnati. My husband has a son 25 years old and a daughter who is 23 years old. His son lives in Tucson; his daughter is in Cincinnati. Those of us in town try to get together once a month for dinner and we try to stay in touch via phone and plan to take some trips out West to meet with our sons who are out of state.
I like to read, play the piano, travel, spend time with friends, hang out with my dog and play golf. I have also always been fascinated by people who could play the piano because it always seemed like such a mysterious instrument. No one in my family played music so I did not grow up around one. Then I met my future husband who is a piano player and had one. I liked watching his hands move around the keyboard and wanted to be able to do the same. About 4 years ago I saw an advertisement for adult piano classes and decided to try it. Partly because I was determined to learn to play and partly because I heard learning a new skill like piano could stave off Alzheimer’s.
I would say my love of reading and spending time with my dog, Cooper, are my 2 favorite pastimes! Cooper is such a source of comfort and relaxation. I call him my own personal therapy dog! I have always loved to read, ever since I first learned. I find it to be a wonderful escape. I especially enjoy mysteries interwoven with a good romance. When I’m not spending my free time with my husband and my dog, you can find me volunteering for the local Red Cross.
My first introduction to couples counseling came through working as an individual therapist. I had a client who was struggling to connect with his wife. She agreed to come in and I worked with them together for a period of time. I discovered that I really enjoyed working with both people, hearing both perspectives, and helping them truly hear what the other person was saying.
Having been divorced and remarried myself, I understand the challenges couples face and feel strongly there are things couples can do to stay together. I think it can be too easy sometimes to walk away because things aren’t working exactly right. It is important for couples to understand there will be highs and lows and having lows is OK. It does not necessarily mean the end of the relationship. It can actually be an opportunity to strengthen it.
When I was going through my divorce, I had a lot of support from family and friends. My parents were always available when I needed some extra reassurance or a pep talk.
For me they are an example of tireless love and effort when a member of their family is at a low point in their lives. I also had friends who were there to support me and have faith in me when I did not. Because I have had that love and support, I feel it is important for me to “pay it forward” by helping others through my work.
I look forward to helping you heal, repair and strengthen your relationship.